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This film shows that far from simply being a vacuous dandy, as many historians would have him, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) was deeply concerned with animal welfare, turning his back on big game hunting and instead championing the camera safari. As the remarkable footage - personally shot by the Prince and only recently released by the Palace - shows, the Prince not only spearheaded some of the earliest conservation efforts in colonial Africa, he also played a prominent role in pioneering wildlife film-making.
We telecine'd over 7000 feet of film from three important and untapped sources in the making of this documentary. After more than a year chasing permissions, we cleaned it, corrected the speed, colour and contrast and then built our film around this incredible footage, re-writing history in the process. As far as we can tell this archive film has not been viewed since it was last privately screened by the famous cameramen - Edward, Prince of Wales; Commander Glen Kidston (d.1931); and Frederick Beck Patterson.
Edwardian Insects on film aims to tell the story of some of the earliest attempts to shoot natural history films and find out if a modern day cameraman (presenter Charlie Hamilton James) could recreate one of them - the mesmerizing Acrobatic Fly (1908). It is also a tender and moving biopic about the man who made the original films. His name was Percy Smith - an Edwardian working class amateur naturalist whose obsession with a strange new medium called film arguably made him the first David Attenborough.
From the moment we became aware of Percy Smith's story we felt compelled to bring the work (such as the Acrobatic Fly, The Birth of a Flower and Bertie Bee) of this forgotten pioneer of natural history to a modern television audience. Although he was a sensation of Edwardian cinema, no one had ever made a film on Percy Smith before. The Science Museum, National Media Museum and the BFI agreed to give expert help and support " pushing us towards forgotten documentation, equipment and film archive and helping us to discover films that had never been seen on television before.
Sir David Attenborough narrates this series of 5 programmes about the careers of five of the world's best nature cameramen, who call Scotland home. Inspired by the stunning landscape and wildlife of their homeland, and renowned for their incredible skills in catching the natural world in action, these men reveal their extraordinary adventure stories and secret tricks. Fusing the BBC's stunning natural history archive with specially shot intimate interviews, this series uncovers the challenges, risks and daring of working with wildlife " to reveal how these cameramen are shaping our understanding of the whole natural world: from land and water to ice and air.
We wanted to make a submission to the FOCAL Awards because this series was just so well received. We were overwhelmed by how much our audience enjoyed seeing key parts of the wildlife archive again, carefully woven with new stories and insights from the men who shot the material themselves. The series had incredibly high AI's in the 90s; one programme had the highest AI of all BBC channels that week. Attenborough was delighted to voice the story of his colleagues who he calls the real heroes of natural history programming.